Pancreatic cancer surveillance among high-risk populations: knowledge and intent

J Genet Couns. 2009 Jun;18(3):229-38. doi: 10.1007/s10897-008-9205-9. Epub 2009 Mar 5.


Pancreatic cancer is the fourth most common cancer in both men and women in the United States. It has the lowest survival rate of all cancers, largely due to the presence of non-specific symptoms, leading to diagnosis at advanced stages. While the majority of cases of pancreatic cancer are sporadic, up to 10% may be associated with an inherited predisposition. Currently, there is no standard screening protocol for pancreatic cancer, although this will change in the future as technology improves. Additionally, there is little information regarding the perceptions and intent to screen for pancreatic cancer among those with an increased risk due to a hereditary cancer predisposition syndrome, which was the objective of this study. Focus groups and individual telephone interviews were conducted, with questions focused on knowledge about pancreatic cancer and screening, perceived motivators, and perceived barriers related to each of the screening techniques currently available. Participants were recruited from the High Risk Breast Cancer and Pancreatic Cancer Registries at Huntsman Cancer Institute. The findings of this study indicated that individuals from these high-risk groups have low knowledge levels of pancreatic cancer screening, despite their desire for this information. Motivation to undergo a particular screening technique is related to whether the test is recommended by a physician, cost, degree of invasiveness, and comfort level. This information is useful to genetics professionals who counsel at-risk individuals, physicians who formulate patient care plans, and translational researchers who are developing pancreatic screening methods.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease*
  • Humans
  • Knowledge
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / genetics
  • Pancreatic Neoplasms / psychology
  • Population Surveillance*
  • Risk Factors